By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There’s still a week left before the Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia, but, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and officials say they can’t clear cars from the secure zone and put facilities on the Ben Franklin Parkway overnight. So road shutdowns and towing begin this weekend.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Shot 8 Times In Deadly North Philadelphia Shooting, Police Say
The Ben Franklin Parkway is now completely closed from the Art Museum to Eakins Oval. The inner lanes were shut down Thursday and the outer lanes were closed to traffic on Saturday morning.
Police say surrounding streets can’t take the traffic volume from the ten-lane roadway, so be prepared to crawl for the next ten days.
Drivers wishing to enter or leave Center City via the Kelly Drive will have to do so by driving through the Fairmount section of the city.
Motorists will not be able to access the Martin Luther King Drive from Eakins Oval or the Parkway.READ MORE: Philadelphians Cautious As COVID Omicron Variant Prompts US Travel Restrictions
And don’t expect to be able to park your car on the street in Center City. Towing begins Sunday at 6 p.m. and will continue around the clock. There are spaces available in garages and lots, but emergency management director Sam Phillips expects police will have to tow cars from a quarter of the 6,500 spaces that need to be cleared.
“I know a lot of people are wondering why we have to begin so early but that’s the answer. We have a limited number of tow trucks and a large number of parking spaces,” Phillips says. “Twenty-five percent of vehicles do not move when they’re asked to move for a special event such as this.”
The nation’s top security officials say Philadelphia’s plans are sound. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie has declared a State of Emergency to cope with overflow crowds from the visit.
The last of the traffic detours are scheduled to be removed by 8 p.m. Sunday, October 4.Temple University Student Samuel Sean Collington Killed In Off-Campus Shooting In North Philadelphia